YOUR HOMETOWN WEEKLY NEWSPAPER ward Winning News al A pa
Vol. 9, No. 43
Including Nearby Communities
Prisoner release worries cops by Dave Roberts Staff Writer
Tens of thousands of criminals will be released early onto the streets of California in the coming years to help relieve prison overcrowding, and local police are concerned it will result in increasing crime. “I know from the Contra Costa Police Chiefs Association, we do have a concern that if the state of California is going to be releasing between 20,000 and 40,000 inmates to the California streets, what’s the plan for re-entry (into society)?” said Antioch Police Chief Jim Hyde. “We haven’t heard a serious plan other than the folks will be assigned to parole officers and all that. “If you release them from state prison and they don’t have any place to go to, then they are homeless. If they are homeless, they are in a desperate state and they tend to re-offend and turn back to a life of crime as a way to live.”
Photo by Dave Roberts
Antioch Police Chief Jim Hyde, seen here at the rededication for a torched Islamic mosque earlier this year, is one of several local police ofﬁcials concerned about the state’s prisoner release plan. The prisoner-release program was announced last month in response to a three-judge U.S. District Court ruling in August that state prisons, which are at nearly double their capacity, have two years to reduce over-
crowding to no more than 137.5 percent of the prison space. That would require a reduction of about 40,000 prisoners. State officials responded with a plan that takes three years to nearly meet that goal through
a variety of measures. Those include sending fewer parole violators back to prison, reducing the time that prisoners serve, deporting illegal immigrant prisoners, reducing to a misdemeanor thefts less than $950 and allowing low-risk offenders to serve the last year of their sentence under house arrest. Antioch Mayor Jim Davis, whose city has been struggling to keep a lid on escalating crime in recent years, said he would talk to Chief Hyde to find out how many of the released prisoners might arrive in Antioch. “I don’t know what the impact’s going to be,” said Davis. “It’s very disappointing, though, that the state’s doing that. That’s why the governor’s approval rate is 24 percent.” Brentwood Police Chief Mark Evenson doesn’t need to deal with the level of crime in Antioch, but he shares that city’s concerns. “Obviously, it’s a concern see Prisoner page 26A
October 23, 2009
Good time to get it in gear
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Panthers tame Lions
Officials consider prep uniforms by Dave Roberts Staff Writer
Antioch school officials are eager to see all high school students wear uniforms similar to those worn by thousands of students in the Antioch elementary and middle schools, but maroon shirts and khaki pants might be an ill-fit as far as many teens are concerned. “We shouldn’t wear uniforms. It’s not cool,” said Deer Valley student Marvin Ware at a Wolverine volleyball game last week. “You don’t walk around wearing the same stuff every day. I don’t like uniforms whatsoever. It’s just boring.” His buddy Derrico Kwa agreed, saying, “I think we shouldn’t wear uniforms because clothes make you, like, express yourself and stuff. And uniforms are ugly.” Mallissa Silveira, who was shooting video for DVTV, said, “I think it’s bittersweet. I think it’s a good thing on the part of every-
one will be looked at, like, equally. But, like, I personally as a student don’t want it. Because I express my own, like, individuality through my clothes and everything.” She believes most students will opt out of uniforms, saying, “More parents will go for it, but not students.” However, A.J. Faiez, who is on the Deer Valley student leadership council, believes there’s value in uniforms. “I think it will be more proper because some kids swag their pants down sometimes,” he said. “I think if we dress professional, we probably will start studying like professionals. It feels more comfortable. And some people don’t need to buy some clothes outside; the fashion business might go out. But uniforms are good. They are actually very organized.” Antioch resident Dee Vieira, who has successfully campaigned for school uniforms in the lower see Uniforms page 26A
What’s past became prologue when a hot-off-the-preseason Liberty squad got cooled off by Antioch.
Press file photo
Antioch and Deer Valley high school students will be wearing uniforms similar to those worn by elementary and middle school students, above, if school ofﬁcials get their way.
Business .............................6A Calendar ..........................27B Classifieds ........................17B Cop Logs ..........................19A Entertainment ................13B Fall Auto Care Guide........ 1B Food .................................14B Health & Beauty ............... 9B Milestones .......................12B Opinion ...........................18A Outdoors ...........................4A Sports ...............................21A Talk About Town ..............5A
FOR MOVIE TIMES SEE PAGE 5A
OCTOBER 23, 2009
Bond sale saves Brentwood $14.6 million by Rick Lemyre Staff Writer
The City of Brentwood has completed the sale of bonds to finance the downtown civic center at a record-low interest rate of 4.97 percent, which will free up approximately $14.6 million over the 30-year life of the bonds for use on other projects. “This is the lowest yield the city has ever received on any bond issuance,” Director of Finance and Information Systems Pam Ehler said in a memo to the City Council last Thursday. The bonds will be repaid with existing revenue streams, Ehler added, and will not require additional taxes. The news on the interest rate comes on the heels of last week’s awarding of the civic center construction contract to Lathrop Construction for $28.6 million, which is $16.4 million below city estimates. The city will spend a total of $55.6 million on the civic center project, which includes a new city hall, community center, a new surface parking lot, re-vamping of City Park and an expanded library. The figure also includes the already-completed construction of the new Senior Center next to Veterans Park. The city’s other major downtown project is the $11.5 million overhaul of the downtown streetscape and utilities, which will be undertaken simultaneously with the civic center project. The streetscape project is being financed with cash on hand, Ehler said, and will require no borrowing or increased taxes. Whereas the savings generated by the bond rate means the city will make lower payments, the $16.4 million savings on the construction contract is in cash, which can be used immediately for other purposes. The City Council will consider options for that money over the course of the coming months, Ehler said.
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Tech assistant Joe Ruzon works on installing the dais in the temporary City Council Chambers in the city’s Tech Center at 101 Sand Creek Road, next to Los Medanos College’s Brentwood campus. Beginning Oct. 27, the council will meet here during construction of the new downtown civic center. “This has been a very long roller coaster ride,” wrote City Manager Donna Landeros in an e-mail message. “It is thrilling to see all of the pieces come together better than we ever imagined. The City’s conservative financial policies made it happen! Now let’s get to work and get it built!” Groundbreaking for the civic center will take place on
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Nov. 10. Both the civic center and the streetscape project are expected to take about two years to complete. During the construction period, meetings of the City Council will be held in temporary facilities at the city’s Technology Center, 101 Sand Creek Road, next to Los Medanos College’s Brentwood campus.
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OCTOBER 23, 2009
’Tis the season for tarantulas No self-respecting haunted house can operate without them. Our fear of them exerts a visceral power; our revulsion is automatic. When we want to make the skin crawl, we know what to do. Trot out TAKE IT UTSIDE the spiders. After decades of attempts to intellectualize my way out of it, I’m still a cardcarrying arachnophobe. The spider is a creature grotesquely unlike me. It sports GER eight legs and way ERICKSON too many eyes for my taste. It wears its skeleton on its sleeve and its abdomen in its back pocket. And it dines with a gruesome gentility, paralyzing its prey with venom, wrapping the hapless victim in silk while its innards liquefy, and returning later to sip away with a straw. No writer of horror fiction has dreamed up a beast more bizarre. The Nightmare on Arachnid Street might feel like a primal emotion, but some experts aren’t so sure. Recent studies suggest that our disgust at the image of a spider is a form of disease-avoidance response with historical and geographical roots. When plague swept through Europe during the Middle Ages, spiders came to be associated with the plague. The real
Photo by Ger Erickson
A male tarantula cruises for chicks at Mt. Diablo’s Donner Canyon. No, he’s not a 10-legged arachnid. Those two small frontal “stirrups” are used for hooking and neutralizing the female’s fangs before mating. culprits were certain rat-infesting fleas, a fact not established until the 19th century. But in a house struck down by plague, the spider’s proximity to the rat made it a prime candidate for blame. (Spiders often hung out in areas of the house, such as the thatched roof, also occupied by rats.) Fear of the plague clouded people’s judgment, and their natural aversion to spiders
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– at first no greater than to other crawling things – soon went haywire. In short, arachnophobia got its start as a “displaced anxiety” and became entrenched as an unconscious vestige of that anxiety. To augment this theory, researcher Graham C.L. Davey of City University, London points out that “the tendency of Europeans and their descendants to
be fearful of spiders does not seem to be shared by people in many non-European cultures.” In fact, many non-European cultures revere spiders as symbols of wisdom or good fortune. Prominent in the folktales of the Ashanti of Ghana, West Africa is the character Anansi the Spider, a lovable trickster similar to the god Loki in Norse mythology. Also in some areas of Africa, as well as Indo-China, the Caribbean, and among Native Americans and the aborigines of Australia, spiders are kept as pets, released at weddings as a token of good luck (and lovingly laid in the bed of the blissed-out couple), and even gobbled down (we’re talking lethally venomous spiders here) as a culinary delicacy. Mmmm. One non-fictional spider that inspires fear way out of proportion to its actual menace is the tarantula: huge, hairy, scary – and gentle as a lamb … unless you’re an insect. The male tarantula stops growing at about age 7, at which time he sheds his exoskeleton for the last time. Normally a nocturnal creature, the mature male leaves the protection of his burrow in September and October and goes looking for a mate in broad daylight. That procreative impulse is good for the species but hazardous to the suitor’s health. Out in the open, see Outside page 13A
OCTOBER 23, 2009
TALK ABOUT TOWN ill Kirk of Kirk Welding, right, studies his creation in front of his Brentwood Boulevard shop. The 16-foot sculpture includes a motion sensor that triggers ﬁreballs in its head and hand. Kirk plans to use his pyrotechnic pumpkinhead monster as a decoration for an upcoming party, but for now it’s been turning heads in town. • • • umors were ﬂying at last week’s Rotary Trade Club Dinner about who might be running for the Liberty Union High School Board of Trustees next year. Speculation is that the ballot might just include a three-person slate: Donna Becnel, Pam Taylor and Lea Brockman, wives of the three city councilmen who were served with papers announcing that petitions to recall them would be circulated by resident Kathy Fredenburg. Asked if they were indeed planning to run, and if they were, why, the women just smiled, declining to conﬁrm or deny the reports. • • • ometimes you just gotta conduct a wholesale clearance. On Oct. 9 at 1:47 a.m., a Brentwood police ofﬁcer
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ooking for a fun and safe way to spend Halloween? Take the kids to the Streets of Brentwood on Oct. 31 from noon to 4 p.m. to enjoy trick or treating, a parade and costume contest, face painting, bounce houses, pumpkin art and a haunted bus, sponsored by Tri Delta Transit. For those looking for a less spooky bus adventure, the Tumble Time Bus will also be on site for hours of fun. For more information, visit www.streetsofbrentwoodca. com. • • • f you’re looking to weigh in on the proposed Oakley Generating Station, a power plant awaiting approval from the California Energy Commission, mark your calendar for Monday, Nov. 9. Members of the commission will be at OakPhoto by Richard Wisdom ley City Hall to lead a public informational hearing at 5:30 pulled over a vehicle and found the interior such a mess that he cleared it all p.m. to discuss the project to be built out. By “mess,” we mean: A) the driver at the old Dupont property. The comwas drunk; B) one of the passengers was mission, not the City Council, will dealso drunk; and C) the third passenger cide whether the station will be built was subject to an outstanding warrant in Oakley, so if you want to put in your for his arrest. The ofﬁcer cleared out the two cents, make sure you’re there in interior and deposited the whole mess November. – Compiled by Press staff in the Martinez lockup bin for recycling.
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OCTOBER 23, 2009
Improved medical records is in the cards by Samie Hartley Staff Writer When patients are admitted to the emergency room, medical professionals must make split-second decisions – sometimes without the medical history necessary to make a thorough diagnosis. But one Brentwood company is trying to change that. Mike Williams, president of the medical supplies store MedSolutions, knows the importance of easy access to medical records in an emergency. “Last year my dad was experiencing heart complications and was taken to the emergency room,” Williams said. “It took doctors a while to come up with the best course of treatment because they didn’t have access to all his medical records right away, so it got me thinking: why can’t people take personal control of their records?” Williams devised MedIDCard, a product the size of a credit card with a retractable USB flash drive that stores pertinent medical information that might come in handy during an emergency. The MedIDCard software, MedIDWare, is built directly into the card and can be accessed from any computer with no downloads necessary. As the card’s autorun software is both MAC and Windows compatible, medical professionals can access the card’s information at all times regardless of their computer’s operating system. MedIDCard users may input as much or little information as they’d like. Williams said the 2GB (2 billion bytes) on the card provides more than enough storage space for all your information. There are pages to enter information manually, but the card is also capable of storing PDFs of scanned medical records, X-rays and even legal documents such as wills and power-of-attorney declarations. There is also a print and e-mail function so information from the card can be sent to a doctor in a
Mike Williams, owner of MedSolutions in Brentwood, displays his latest product MedIDCard, a creditcard-size device that stores all your medical records in one easy-touse gadget.
Photo by Samie Hartley
non-emergency case. “It’s like an insurance policy in your pocket,” Williams said. “You never know when you’ll be in an accident and need access to this information. With the MedIDCard technology, you can keep all of this with you on your person. You can list your allergies and medications, your blood type, family history, immunizations, insurance contact information – you can list if you’re a donor. It’s all the critical information that doctors will need to know to accurately treat you. It’s all there. The MedIDCard speaks for you when you can’t.” Jane Schmitz, a rehab product specialist from Alameda, heard about MedIDCard from Williams and decided to try the product to keep track of her grandmother’s health records. “My grandma is 91 years old and she’s very independent, but this card helps us keep track of all her medications and store updated information about doctor’s visits,” Schmitz said. “She’s on at least 20 different medications, so this allows us and the doctors to have
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all her information right at our fingertips. This way, no matter who takes her to a doctor’s appointment, we’ve got all the needed information right on the card.” Schmitz said she was also surprised about how easy the card is to use: “I’m not very tech savvy, but the program is so simple to understand and the drop-down menus make it easy to plug in all your information. You never know when something might happen and you need access to all this information for yourself or a loved one, and it’s helpful to have it all with you in your purse or wallet. After seeing how much it’s benefited my grandma, I think I might even get one for myself.” According to Sutter Delta Medical Center Communications and Marketing Manager Angela Juarez-Lombardi, “We are always very encouraged when patients proactively collect important information regarding their medical history, and the product appears to take patients down that track. Depending on a patient’s condition or treatment plan, there can be a lot of information and paperwork
collected, so the idea of putting it in one place is a great idea.” She also mentioned that while the product is defined as universal, some computers in shared community areas such as an emergency room might have the USB port disabled to prevent the transmission of computer viruses, so a device like this might be more suited for private physicians until technology like this becomes more common. Williams knows it might take a while for a product like MedIDCard to catch on, but he’s confident that people be will drawn to the card’s ability to help people take control of their health records. “Having control of your health care is a big issue these days,” he said. “Most people – all of us, frankly – rely on the medical community to maintain our medical records. Not that we shouldn’t trust medical professionals. Of course we should, but this allows you to take control of your own records so that you see Cards page 7A
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WHAT HAPPENED TO THE â€œSHADOWâ€?? We keep hearing that there is another large wave of bank-owned homes about to hit the market. These are all the homes that the banks have foreclosed on (or should have foreclosed on by now), but havenâ€™t been put on the market yet. Why havenâ€™t they been put on the market? There are a variety of reasons. First, there were all the government-imposed moratoriums mixed in with the banks imposing foreclosure moratoriums on themselves. This is similar to how there are some programs in the stock market that put a halt to trading if the market trades down by more than so many points in a day. Sort of a â€œcooling-off periodâ€? to prevent catastrophic panic selling. A second reason is that many of these banks are just overwhelmed and canâ€™t keep up with the workflow to process all these foreclosures. It may sound silly, but a lot of them may be just sitting in a pile on someoneâ€™s desk, waiting for them to wade through the hundreds, if not thousands, of files they are responsible for. The third reason is a bit more complex. It has to do with the bankâ€™s reserve requirements
from the Federal Reserve. They are supposed to keep so much cash on hand to offset their â€œbadâ€? loans. Well, a lot of banks donâ€™t have enough cash, so they are delaying foreclosing on these homes to keep their reserve account intact. If they were to take on too many foreclosures, the Federal Reserve could declare them insolvent, and take them over. All these factors have combined to keep many bank-owned homes off the market this year, which has artificially depressed the number of homes for sale. The big question is when will they all finally get released onto the market? No one knows for sure. And now we are starting to wonder if the banks and the government are going to be able to keep finding ways to trickle the inventory out slowly, instead of in a big glut? If they have, then this IS the bottom of the market. If you have questions on this or any other real estate topic, call me at (925) 240-MOVE (6683). To search the MLS for free and view virtual tours of homes for sale, go to: www. SharpHomesOnline.com. Sharp Realty â€“ Advertisement
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